"Birdman! Birdman! K-Mart! K-Mart!"
Mike Ehrmann/NBAE/Getty Images
I have been all over the internet--and even through parts of MySpace--and have found no evidence of a 20th century cartoon where someone chants, "Birdman, Birdman," like Shaq was hilariously raving about this past week.
But I digress for a reason, because Chris Andersen a.k.a. Birdman and Kenyon Martin a.k.a. K-Mart are becoming folk heroes once again for the way they occasionally save the day for the Miami Heat and New York Knicks reserve crews.
Too many times this season, the Heat and Knicks starters have worried their faithful by playing games too close to the vest, games they should win easily. And more often than not, Andersen and/or Martin come in with the reserve crew and go on a big run that forgives the starters for having that occasional off day.
That happened this week where both Birdman in Game 2 and K-Mart in Game 1 supplied the fourth-quarter sparks to propel their teams to easy victories.
It is what they have been doing all year, which is remarkable when you consider neither was on the team on New Year's Day 2013, and both had to prove themselves with a couple of 10-day contracts.
And now, they are arguably two of the better seventh men in playoff basketball.
Andersen had a remarkable +3.06 Regularized Statistical Plus Minus in 624 minutes this season as the Heat's backup center. The 6-10, 228 pounder had a +0.78 Conservative Plus Minus averaged 5 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block in 15 minutes per game in 42 contests, making him the answer to Coach Erik Spoelstra's prayers: a big man who could defend, rebound, yet still be able to run with The Big 3.
It is why Spoelstra took to texting Heat President Pat Riley like a teen-age girl since Summer 2012 through January 2013, in hopes of signing the slender center. The 34-year-old Andersen was only out available because he was amnestied by Denver because of an off-court legal matter, where he later was not charged with any crime.
The 6-9, 240-pound Martin also was lost in the shuffle when the Clippers chose to sign Odom instead of K-Mart. Consequently, he too was left unsigned by all until February 2013 when the Knicks offered back-to-back 10-day contracts, after their backup bigs went down and he was kept for the season when Amare Stoudemire got hurt.
In the 2012-13 regular season, Martin had a serviceable -0.08 RSPM in 431 minutes, which made him valuable for the Knicks in the postseason, considering their older, breaking-down bigs were not getting the job done for any length of time (injured Marcus Camby had a -1.28 RSPM in only 250 minutes, while ex-Knicks Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace had -0.97 and +1.03 RSPMs, but only stayed healthy for 392 and 296 minutes, respectively).
The 35-year-old power forward, who is forced to back up Tyson Chandler at center too, had a +1.23 CPM and averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block in 24 minutes per game during 18 regular-season contests.
It is part of the reason why both teams have been nearly unbeatable since Birdman and K-Mart upgraded their backup big positions (the Heat is 41-3 with Andersen in the lineup; the Knicks are 15-5 with Martin).
And it is during the first two games of the 2013 NBA Playoffs where both tattooed veterans are taking their games to new heights, swatting the shot out of Milwaukee's and Boston's small-ball lineups.
Birdman has a gravity-defying 43.7 Player Efficiency Rating with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block in 15 minutes per playoff game.
K-Mart has an All-Star-like 20.3 PER with 7 rebounds, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in 26 minutes per playoff game.
Will it last? Probably.
These men are proven vets on experienced playoff teams.
They are not flashes in the pan.
They are perfect playoff fits who are giving opponents more fits.